Talent Spotters: Belfast School of Art

Darcie Graham of AV Browne in Belfast picks her favourite work from the University of Ulster Belfast School of Art show

Darcie Graham of AV Browne in Belfast picks her favourite work from the University of Ulster Belfast School of Art show

Full disclaimer: I graduated in 2007 from Belfast’s then Design for Visual Communication course with a body of work that had some great bits (including a CR Creative Futures award), some really all over the place unfinished bits, and a 2:2 on my watermarked certificate. It could therefore be very easily argued that I am in no position to review a show of this year’s grads, but bear with me.

While I wouldn’t recommend that quite reckless approach, or attribute it to my path since, it was a very early and very literal lesson in what I saw at the time as failure, and that really the thing to do would be not to dwell, but to recognise it, smile, move on, and get to work. As a working creative, that’s a useful lesson.

The presentation and level of finish of the show gets exponentially better, but hearteningly (to me at least), there are still the little bits of good, and little bits of not so good, that suggests to me that they’ve had time and space to mess things up and start again. I don’t know what any of the marks are, or will be, and without getting into a debate around the system of education, I do hope that watermark paper isn’t the only measure these guys measure themselves against.

In no particular order, here are some of all of those bits that caught my eye.

In Graphic Design, one of the only hands on things on display was some string art from Kerri Greer as part of a project to brand the end of year show. Again, maybe it’s me, but I love to see the workings out. As Kerri’s notebooks noted, god is in the details and the biro scribbles.


I don’t know, but I like to think that some string played a part in Niall Keenan‘s history of F1 racing piece. String or no string, the lines created a simple and effective graphic device to tie together tracks, cars and people, across print, web and apps.


The other app which caught my eye, and the eyes of this years’ D&AD judges, was James Kirkpatrick’s Roost app – created in response to a D&AD npower brief to give control back to energy users. Well thought out and visualised, it’s good to see the graphic design student outputs move beyond print.


I would tend to agree with another student, Anthony Zagariko, whose dissertation piece states, ‘The future belongs to Multidisciplinary Designers’. A body of work full of well considered UI and educational motion graphics suggests he also lives that out.

I’m not sure if the gold was intended to catch eyes, but Emma Kenny’s self-branding did that, as well as brilliantly conveying her work – a laid back absolute attention to detail.

With Tanya Clarke, her self-branding work took a back seat to her student show branding.

My notebook seems like a good place to finish. And it is my notebook, my notes, and I will no doubt have missed lots of bits, so really, you should just get yourself down there and see what catches your eye – it’s open til Saturday 14th.

Darcie Graham leads the Digital team at AV Browne in Belfast, and can be found tweeting at @gingedarce


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